Daddy Dolls to Remember Deployed Dads

Daddy has just been deployed overseas. The kids miss him and cry. What to do? Hand the young-uns a Daddy Doll bearing the full-body photographic likeness of dad.

A Daddy Doll bearing the full body photographic likeness of a United States soldierThese dolls are the brainchild of two moms who are married to deployed marines. They wanted to make the separation easier for their children while "keeping their fathers close to their heart."

You snap a three megapixel photo of dad in his uniform and they turn it into a cuddly 12- or 18-inch cotton doll. For an extra fee you can have Dad’s backside appear on the reverse side.

The idea of my daughter hugging a doll that resembles me gives me the heebie-jeebies. But I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a parent leave for an extended period of time, let alone leaving to face danger.

The dolls can depict any far away loved one. A child can be seen hugging a grandma and grampa doll in the Daddy Doll photo gallery.


42 Responses to “Daddy Dolls to Remember Deployed Dads”

  1. Marcella says:

    Being a military wife to a deployed U.S. Marine, I can tell you that no, you have no idea what is like to have a loved one deployed.
    it’s way harder than people think, and it’s specially tough on kids.
    One of my friends has a daddy doll for her 4 year old daughter, and it does help this little girl keep the sense of her father with her over this long period of time.. and no, this is not a weird idea or something to give you the heebie jeebies… its a tangible way for this kids to hug their fathers when they are gone for 6 mos to a year. It keeps the image of Daddy alive in their young minds and makes this time easier for them.
    Don’t make fun of ideas like this, though of by those who are dealing with the reality of war.

    September 7th, 2005 at 8:31 pm

  2. AJ / Thingamadad says:

    Marcella, thank you for your perspective.

    I did not intend to make fun of the Daddy Dolls. I was being truthful that the idea gives me the heebie jeebies. Partially for the thought of my daughter hugging a picture of me instead of me. And partially for the cold reality of the situation for families that have these dolls.

    I conveyed my true feelings when I wrote, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a parent leave for an extended period of time, let alone leaving to face danger.”

    I’m glad to hear you know someone with the doll and that it does help the child.

    September 7th, 2005 at 9:13 pm

  3. Fitzgerald says:

    As someone who spent 20 years in the Navy and made quite a few extended deployments I think it is great that these mothers have developed this doll.

    But I have to agree with you, I would not have wanted my daughter to play with a doll that was my likeness. I can’t see this as a panacea.

    In my mind dolls are things of the imagination, they are toys. And we all know what dads are. They are not dolls.

    While adults can differentiate with no problem between a doll and the real thing there will be kids who can not.

    September 9th, 2005 at 6:31 pm

  4. Richard says:


    As one who will have been away for 2 1/2 years out of 3, the dolls are great; any positive way to maintain your family in these times is important. In fact, I am ordering mine today as I get ready to leave for Iraq.

    I wish that you had a perspective of what it means when you give up so much. I just pray that you and your children never have to know what it means to miss multiple holidays, birthdays, the first day of school, and your daughter’s first prom.

    July 4th, 2006 at 4:02 pm

  5. Kennetta says:

    Being a military service member and single mother to 2 girls, I must stand firm in my agreement with Marcella. First I will say, Marcella thank you for showing your love and support to your servicemember spouse. It means all the world to us to have anyone, especially our significant others, proud and supportive of what we do. Second I will say, before I began my deployment, my children got more than a million hugs from me throughout their day. How can someone be averse to a likeness of themself being loved on by their child? What greater honor, humility, and reality can you get in this world than the love of your child? And to have that still in my absense? Wow!!! As soon as I get the chance my children will have their dolls. Kudos DaddyDolls!!! Thanks for caring enough to help add to the bond of the parent and child during these times.

    August 10th, 2006 at 10:45 pm

  6. charmaine Draper says:

    I think this is a great idea. My son is now deployed for his second tour in Iraq. His son is 8 months. He plans to order the doll for his son so he has an idea who his father is since he will be over 2 by the time his father returns. We should remember the popularity of the G. I. Joe dolls many years ago.

    August 20th, 2006 at 2:22 pm

  7. mp says:

    my dh is deploying to Irak. this is his 2nd tour and we just found this last month abut the daddy dolls we love the idea of getting the dolls for my 3 year old son and my 4 year old daughter,during the last tour my daughter
    ( 18months ) was carrying everywhere my dh’s t-shirt and his picture there is no doubt that this is the best idea ever,instead of sleeping with his t-shirt they can now sleep with daddy doll

    September 19th, 2006 at 7:29 am

  8. Proud Marine Wife says:

    My husband is a Marine and has been gone since July ’06 (our daughter was 8 months old) and won’t be home until June ’07. He has been home for short visits since, but pictures are all she has. I ordered a Daddy Doll and can’t wait until she receives it. I know that she will be thrilled! I also ordered a set of dog tags with his picture for our 6 yr old son. Daddy Dolls is a genious idea!!!

    April 20th, 2007 at 8:36 am

  9. Carol BIshop says:

    This is wonderful! God Bless our Military and their families. AWESOME idea!

    August 25th, 2007 at 7:25 pm

  10. Jake's mom says:

    Why are so many people making the Daddy Dolls in the ACUs? I would want my child to see their father without the military uniform on because at home, that is how they are not in uniform.

    October 28th, 2007 at 7:43 am

  11. An Army Mom/ Grandma says:

    As an Army Mom that watched her son leave his 6 week old baby to head for Iraq for a year only later to be told of an extension to 15 months I think this is a wonderful idea!!!!! I have watch the grandbaby hug and kiss photos of daddy but to have a doll that he can cuddle and love while patiently waiting for Daddy to return is an awesome idea. My hat goes off to the ladies that came up with this idea. It never surprises me of how inventive these strong military wives are! Great Idea Ladies!!!!!!! Deployment is very tough on the soldier but everyone forgets how hard it is on the families left behind trying to just “get through” watching the calendar slowly march forward.

    November 2nd, 2007 at 6:34 am

  12. Army Mom says:

    As a mother and woman of the army this is a little disturbing, when will people rezalize its not only the men who are deployed!!!

    Wake up people, stop living in the deprived military wife stage, there are plenty of us wives and moms deployed also!

    December 7th, 2007 at 10:09 am

  13. Single Army Mom says:

    I am a single mom of 6 and even my older kids want one with my voice as I get ready to deploy to Iraq. I have seen my youngest remember me by my voice previously from phone calls and now with this I am very appreciative as my kids are glad to have something physical to hold onto this time as I leave and the dog tags to wear until my return. Thanks a million!!!

    December 15th, 2007 at 7:31 pm

  14. Military Wife says:

    I ordered one of the “Daddy Dolls” for my little girl when my husband was deployed in 06 and I can’t tell you what a life saver this was. She kept the doll with her all the time. Daddy doll went to bed with her, he sat at the table with us at dinner etc. With her being 2 years old, it really helped keep the image of daddy in her mind as he was gone for 16 months then. He will be deployed again in 09 and I will be ordering another one then. This was a brilliant idea and for the army mom that is obviously upset about them being called “daddy” dolls, get a grip. They also make “mommy” dolls as well as grandparents etc. Its just a name. Quit being so insecure about being a female in the army. We all know that both men and women are in the army. Its just a name.

    December 20th, 2007 at 1:41 pm

  15. Sergeant Lewis says:

    This is a great idea. I wish I had known about this when I was deployed. I’ve missed both my children’s births during my eight years in the Army. A Daddy Doll would have given them a visual representation to connect with daily. And anything is better than nothing when you’re gone and missing your kids. During tough times, it would have been comforting to know that they might be thinking of me and maybe imagining holding me. I’ll be getting one soon so that next deployment I’ll be ready. Thanks to the ladies who came up with this idea. It takes all of us to make it work.

    February 1st, 2008 at 10:24 am

  16. Desiree says:

    I am a mother of two and I will be going through my husbands first deployment in august. My sons are 31/2 and 18 months and my husband goes tdy alot and they do not handle it very well. This is a great idea!!! And for the women who is upset about this we all know there are women deploying every day but since you are gone you must not know the way your children feel because you arent there and if you do know then wouldnt it be better to just put you picture on it and leave it at that? Make it a mommy doll and quit saying harsh things towards us spouses because you arent one. I would never tell you as a deployed parent the things you said. I would hope is spite off all this you will still consider what is good for your children and get them a MOMMY DOLL!!

    May 8th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

  17. Jenny says:

    To the lady who wrote..
    “stop living in the deprived military wife stage, there are plenty of us wives and moms deployed also!”

    I have never failed to acknowledge both the Men and Women who serve this country!

    I am not sure where you got “deprived military wife” from any of these comments.

    I am an Army wife…I wear the shirts… I post the bulletins, and I am loud and proud!!! I am HONORED to be a military wife and feel that anyone else who is in this situation should be as well! I am thankful for my husband and what he does! If your husband chooses not to be all…Oh I am an Army Husband!!! That’s his choice…. you don’t have to “attack” the proud wives posting here!

    Oh an to the lady who said something about the Dad’s being in ACU’s …. That makes tons of sense! This way when the child sees his/her Dad in ACU’s They can be reminded of why their Dad is away from them and be proud of who he is and what he is doing!


    May 18th, 2008 at 9:36 am

  18. Shannon says:

    What are you doing for all the Active Duty Women out there that have to leave their children behind, I think it is harder to be away from your Mom than your Dad, if it is just a photo, why can’t you make this less gender related. We have thousands of women deploying each year, much less, you could make photos of the kids, for us to take along on deployment, so we could line our little ones up down range??? Just a thought! Expand your business!

    June 5th, 2008 at 6:09 am

  19. Terri Lowry says:

    What a grand idea, kudos to you both. I am an Army wife, Army mom (my oldest son is in), and Navy mother-in-law (oldest son’s wife is a Nayv “chick”, as he calls her). What a blessing your brain child is for so many children.
    God Bless You both!

    June 5th, 2008 at 6:22 am

  20. Military Wife (Ret), and Military Mom says:

    When I saw this on Good Morning America this morning I wished that someone had come up with this idea when my husband was sent out on Duty. Now my son is serving in Iraq and I am going to order one as soon as I can get a full length picture of him!! I have lots of close up pictures but need the full one. I can’t wait to send this to my granddaughter!!!!

    June 5th, 2008 at 7:43 am

  21. military mom says:

    I am going to order one of these dolls for our family, just to help us get through the rough times of each day while our loved one is away from us. Thanks so much for the inventor of this doll. I just saw it this morning on Good Morning America, what a godsend to all the military families in this country!!!!!

    June 5th, 2008 at 8:29 am

  22. Sarah says:

    First, I would like to extend my deepest gratitiude to the men and women serving for our country. I am a wife and a mother of three beautiful children. My husband is not in the military (he teaches-he has his own battle) and I think that these dolls are a fantastic idea. If it brings comfort to the children that are missing their dad, mom, uncle..etc, then do it! I can’t even begin to imagine not having my husband around but I have dated those in the military (boot camp) before I was married-so I have some what of a clue. This is a great idea-keep up with the work!!!!

    June 5th, 2008 at 11:55 am

  23. Granny Henderson says:

    I can understand the comments of all who have written. Yes, the name “DaddyDolls” is gender-restrictive, and there are many children out there with deployed mothers. My grandson is one of those. Since my daughter is a divorced mother with primary custody, we (her father and I) are raising her son while she serves our country in Iraq. My grandson hates his mother’s ACU’s, as he has learned that this type of clothing means that his Mama is leaving.

    Sometimes, it feels as if we, the families left behind these deployed Soldiers, these patriots, are looking for SOMEthing to vent at. The creators of DaddyDolls is not a proper venue. Kudos to the makers! Anything that helps a little one make it through a parent’s deployment is welcomed and embraced.

    Thank you for the excellent idea. Thank you for caring enough about children to keep on with this task in the face of harsh criticism. And how can I order one?


    June 5th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

  24. Kelli says:

    As a wife of a twice deployed husband, I think this is a super idea. My daughter, during the first deployment (he was gone 18 months or so) forgot what her daddy looked like, even though she saw pictures of him. I think something like that would have really helped her. She started even calling my dad, “dad” because, of course, that is what I called him. So I had to start calling him Paw-Paw so that she would understand that was not her dad. When he came home, she wouldn’t even go him, it had been so long.

    During the second deployment we got ‘build a bears’ and he recorded a message to each of us. We both (yes even me) slept with our bears, and we sent him one in Iraq with our message. This help us a lot!
    Super idea!

    June 5th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

  25. Angela says:

    I saw this on Yahoo! this morning and thought it was a wonderful idea. My brother is single but is deployed to Iraq for his third time. I am thinking of getting a “daddy”doll for all 6 of my children so they can have one of their uncle! My husband was in the Marine’s when we met and if he were in now and deployed not only would my children have one, but so would I !!!!! Keep up the good work and please ignore those that always seem to find the negative about a good, supportive, patriotic project!

    June 6th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

  26. Diane From Az. says:

    What a great idea. I myself was a military wife who s husband was deployed more than he was home in any given year. My youngest son was only 3 mths old when dad left for saudia he missed all his FIRST milestones. Something today that still is brought up by my husband. The daddy dolls are a great gift for the child but broaden the production and send one of the kids, or wife with the soldier to help them when they are having the same feelings we that are left behind have. God bless you and your families.

    June 11th, 2008 at 11:04 am

  27. melissa archer says:

    I am an army wife and my husband is getting ready to leave to iraq for a year and we have to kids.I just wanted to nohow i can get them a daddy doll? and how much the cost and if you even make them for the army?? I think it’s great that people came up with these cause kids don’t understand where and why there daddy has to go and go somewhere so far away.well i hope that you make them for the army.please get back to me

    August 4th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

  28. Shelly says:

    I love this idea. I am a mother of a 16 month old little boy, and I will be leaving for Iraq later on this year. I am so thankful to the women who came up with these dolls, because I will still be able to give my son a little mommy to carry around with him while I am gone.

    August 8th, 2008 at 8:21 am

  29. Sheila says:

    I am a marine wife and have been for 15 years now. My husband is currently deployed to Iraq for his 3rd time. We have 3 boys 13, 11, and 7. My 7 year old saw the show no Good Morning America and he has been asking for a Daddy Doll every day since then. I just got on this site to look and see how to order one for him. I just want to say that I can not believe that ANYONE would have anything negative to say about such a good thing. I am going to order one for my son TODAY! This is an awesome idea. I too just wish it would have been around when my husband did his first deployment to Iraq before the war even started. Deployments are very hard on the family. Militay spouces are STRONG and we get through it somehow, but if this doll will help our children then we should all be for it 100%.

    August 26th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

  30. sheila says:

    Oh I forgot something. Someone asked why everyone was using pictures of the dad’s in cammies. Well we are suing a picture of dad in his cammies because that is who he is and we are supporting our MARINE in every way possible. His dad is off fighting for his country, I can not think of a better picture to use.

    August 26th, 2008 at 2:03 pm

  31. Sara says:

    I grew up as an army brat, and now am a army wife. I wish they had this doll when i was growing up it would have made things a lot easier for my siblings and myself. I remember when my father went to Korea for a year and around seven months i started to forget how he looked. I mean I could look at pictures but not remember him.
    Now as my husband prepares for his second deployment in our relationship and our first with our daughter I know I will get one of these dolls. I more than likely will get one soon, just so she can make it through the day, she hates being seperated from daddy.
    Shoot I might get one for myself to cuddle up next to while he is gone!

    September 3rd, 2008 at 9:57 am

  32. Amanda says:

    I had a friend telling me about a soft stuffed cube that has slots for pictures, perfect for little babies to play with. It was something her sister (a navy wife) did for her kids while her hubby was deployed. I was looking for something of that sort when I came across this, and honestly I like this better! I’m currently 8 months pregnant and my husband just left for Iraq this week, so he’s gonna miss out on a lot of our new daughter’s life, and she’ll miss out on getting to know him during this time. I love the idea of these dolls, and I’m gonna get one for her. (and maybe one for me too)

    October 26th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

  33. Tiffany says:

    This is also a great gift for the military child who’s dad was KIA. When my husbands platoon was targeted by a suicide bomber my best friend lost her husband. her daughter was just 2 months old. next month she will be a year old and i am going to get her a daddy doll so she will forever have him at her side.

    November 16th, 2008 at 7:33 am

  34. Tracy says:

    So…I am an Army wife and I have been a Solider too…to all of you being negative or feeling begrudged…We are all in this together, Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Wives, Husbands…all of them are fighting for the same thing…US! So, be proud, hold your head up high…and LET THE KIDS BE KIDS, letem’ carry their dolls everywhere and just say “You’re Welcome” to anyone who has something negative to say, because all in all it’s our family members who put their lives on the line for their 1st Amendment right!

    I love this idea…my girls love their daddy doll!

    And to take it one step further, I am ordering a doll of myself and each of my girls to send to my husband…they have lonely nights there too, and snuggling us…makes them feel a little closer to home!

    “If you can’t get behind our troops, GET IN FRONT OF THEM!”

    November 25th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

  35. Carrie says:

    I think this is such a neat idea. I grew up an army brat and have many friends with husbands deployed and a few that have husband and wife in the army. THANK YOU to all of our troops AND to their families. Just had a random thought. I saw that for an extra fee you can have Daddy’s back on the reverse side; I was curious if you could possibly put an ACU pic on one side and a civ. pic on the other, to show both parts of Dad’s life. I know for some kids that may be a reminder of their daddy at home as well as deployed/that daddy is coming home too. I think anything that helps the kids keep dad/mom close or even helps the deployed parent feel like they are closer or more visible part of their kids day to day life is a wonderful thing! Out of sight out of mind doesnt pertain to the military, but in sight and in arms is much more fun. God bless our troops, their loved ones and everyone who seeks to help and support them!

    December 9th, 2008 at 11:43 am

  36. Blanche says:

    Like many others I was once a soldier (8 years-3 deployments) when I had my first child I decided that deploying again and leaving my daughter was not an option. Three years later my husband who remained in was deployed.

    At three years old my daughter feels EVERY emotion of having her daddy leave-sad, mad, helpless, lonely.. I have tried teddy bears dressed in ACU’s, pictures of her daddy everywhere but the Daddy Doll is the only tangible item she can hug and hit at the same time. Thank you inventors of DaddyDolls.

    Thank you to all those who served, are serving and those who support them!

    January 30th, 2009 at 6:13 pm

  37. Lisa Berg says:

    Hello. I ran across this blog and wanted to thank everyone for their comments regarding Daddy Dolls, which is also referred to as Hug-A-Hero dolls (because we know more than just daddy deploys). Daddy Dolls’ (registered trademark) name came about because the co-founder of the company asked her daughter what she wanted to call her new doll and of course, Daddy Doll was created. We love what we do and are trying to get the word out about our company, including our non-profit, Operation Hug-A-Hero. On this side, we give these dolls free to families who cannot afford them or lose their Hero in the line of duty. If you would like to help me spread the word, contact me by visiting our website at Any group (i.e. Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, 4H, churches) can hold fundraisers for our cause and we will make sure families in need are taken care of. We’re also on Facebook under Causes, if you would like to join. Have a great day, everyone! Support our troops and their families!

    March 12th, 2009 at 9:27 am

  38. Jeanette says:

    I am a preschool teacher. I had first hand experience with a child who at 2 yrs old had a dad deployed to Iraq for a year,and then not knowing him when he came home. We talked about him daily, we made pictures for him and made a huge deal of his dad and what he did. He was our classroom hero. He was a year old when his dad left. His dad came to class with his mom to pick him up and the little boy ran away from him scared to death and clung to me his teacher. Besides his mom I was the one constent. A doll like this would have kept his face fresh in this little boys mind. It would have given him a tangible thing to look at and hold on to instead of this abstract person we talked about. I bawled at the look on the dads face, all he wanted to do was see his son and his son had no real idea who he was. Anyone who thinks this isnt a good idea needs to talk to a military dad who has come home to a reception of fear and not being known. This little boy would have related the doll his dads face and I believe he would have better received his dad on his return. If this helps another father from going through what I witnessed then more power to the creaters.Even with a father who is in a childs life everyday,is subject to become a charecter in their fantasy play. Give kids more credit for knowing reality from fantasy. This is an amazing tool in a difficult situation. The Army mom, come on, we all know its all people from all walks of life who make up our military. Life is not politically correct. It is symantics,we all know woman are serving our country as well and we support and wish the best for them and their famalies.

    March 20th, 2009 at 8:37 am

  39. Tina says:

    I can’t believe all the politically correct nonsense in these posts. Of course we know women serve and have to be away from their families. Gender restrictive?? To whom exactly? You don’t have to tell your child that it’s a ‘daddy’ doll? You be the grown up and let your child have a great picture of you or your spouse, in WHATEVER clothing you think is best, on a huggable medium. My goodness people, this is about helping children deal with the separation from their hero parent, not your PC hang ups.

    I see that those posts are old, but these things make me crazy. My 2 y/o was born while her dad was in Iraq, and he’ll be there again when she turns 3 and her brother turns 1. She loves that doll, whether he’s in Iraq or just training for few weeks, it’s a source of great comfort. I’m about to order a 3rd one, so we have one for each of us.

    March 20th, 2009 at 1:57 pm

  40. Army wife says:

    I wish people would understand what these creators are doing. They have made an item that can be so helpful for young children. Whether it’s their mommy or daddy that is gone, it’s hard. It is devistating to see a young child not recognize his/her own parent when they finally return after 15 months in a war zone. This is helping children still feel connected to the missing parent. I wish everyone would get off their high-horses and realize this is about the children, nothing else. It’s to help children cope with a situation they have no control over. I think the creators have come up with a great idea. Good for you guys!

    April 16th, 2009 at 10:46 am

  41. Cortney says:

    From a child development point of view, these dolls are a great idea. The idea of seeing the face of their loved one will help them establish a liking to their face so that when they return they will “know” (subconsciously) whom the person is.
    I do not believe children see this doll as a “play thing” or an idea of imagination. They see it as mommy or daddy.
    I will keep my own opinions to myself about people who wish to not see the pain children go through and think they should just “suck it up” and go about their lives. If we can offer a child a small resemblance of their parent, why not? Did you yourself not have something that made you feel comforted as a child? You would show children pictures of their loved one, why not put it in a form that can comfort them?
    I can understand the idea of feeling awkward that your child has a doll in your resemblance, but I’m sure once the said parent is back in the picture, the doll is cast aside for the real thing.
    Huge kudos to the creators from the child development field!!!

    October 28th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

  42. Army Wife 1St Deployment says:

    It is rather bothersome that there is so much time being spent on the naming of the dolls. Wives of deployed service members created these wonderful tools of comfort for their children and wanted to share them with others in the same situation. The notion that people are not in tune with the demographics of the military these days is just absurd. This is a great product, meant to comfort a child in a parents absence, to help them remember what they look like and sound like if you get the recorder. Our children connect and bond with the sound of our voices from the womb, to add the visual representation of their parent (or grandparent) while they are away serving their country, is brilliant in my opinion.
    This product is something that, regardless if it’s called a Daddy Doll, a Mommy Doll, a baby doll, or that “thing” over there will help little ones get through their times of need during deployment or long trainings. I see it in the children that have them.
    So, how about focusing on the benefits of the product instead of the semantics of a name…. “a rose of any other name is still the same”

    December 19th, 2009 at 9:49 am